You know summer is about here when Masterchef (US), returns to Fox. Now it is time for America’s best amateur chefs to step up to the plate and impress three important people: Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot, and Gordon Ramsay. This is season 5 so we all know the drill by now. First they have individuals cook a meal for the judges to taste. Those that pass get an apron for the next level, the others leave. Then they assemble those that passed and make them do a challenge. It might be a cooking challenge or it might be a test of your basic culinary skills. Then they cut more leaving usually around 20 to compete in the Masterchef competition. Last year we saw Luca, who had been rejected a year before, pass muster and go all the way to the end and be crowned winner.
This is 2014 and things have changed. The powers that be decided to cut right to the chase so we do not see the first round and go directly to the final 30 awaiting the challenge to get the coveted white apron. And that is not all that has changed. Chef Graham Elliot has lost a lot of weight and looks great. He did it because of his family (he has a few little ones running underfoot these days). Good for him! Now it is time for some serious cooking and learning who the cheftestants are. The go to their assigned spots and strangely find a mirror under the cutting board. While one looks approvingly of himself, they are told put themselves on the plate. Time for the signature dish.
But there is a catch, of course, for the angel of death will walk by and taste their food. Those found wanting will go home. They did this last year but this time they stop the clock and tell Gavin to leave for his under seasoned food. Then the clock stops again and a gal who had a broken sauce also exits the kitchen. The clock runs down and the cheftestants are nervous. So after tasting the food as they passed by each station, the Culinary Trio pronounces judgment. Those called are given the coveted aprons. One of them is Courtney, who cooked an Italian style dish that Gordon liked. In her confessional, she tells us working many jobs led her to work in a gentleman’s club and is billed as an “aerial dancer” in the official bio. She has a lot of spunk and confidence. Hopefully she will be around a while on the show.
After handing out the aprons, there is a small group standing waiting to be told farewell. They look saddened by the prospect but fortunately it was a head fake. The competition is still on! Now they must cook using the exact same ingredients with the protein being chicken. We are off to the races again as they all frantically have to cook a meal that will judge whether they stay or go. Once again there is a catch for one of the Culinary Trio will be picked to cook alongside them. Astrid wants Gordon and so he suits up (so to speak) and joins them in the competition. He makes a minted Asian style dumplings dish that looks not only good but likely has terrific flavors as well. The nine are called up in threes to present their dishes.
First up we have “Little” Gordon whose dish is fine though not extraordinary. Leslie (the oldest of the competitors since he is 50 years old and stay at home dad), presents a stuffed chicken. Except it is a very large portion that Gordon chides him about. It passes muster and on we go to Corey. He made fried chicken with a potato souffle. Souffle! This kid is nuts to try that and the camera shows a rather poor looking specimen, Gordon tries to get it out but has to bang it hard on the plate breaking it in the process. The chicken tastes bad. No hard decision here so Corey heads out of the kitchen.
Astrid, Amy, and Michael are next. Astrid already has a knock against her for being unsanitary at her work station. For some reason she has a problem putting discards into the garbage bin nearby. So her floor area is covered, and I mean covered, with food scraps. She seems to think this is totally okay. In a real kitchen, they would toss her out for being filthy. Aside from attracting rodents, it can cause slips and falls. Yeah, just what a restaurant manager needs is a lawsuit from a server or cook staff slips and is hurt because some idiot decided to drop food scraps in the floor rather than the bin. Joe takes her to task and for a moment looks like she was going home. But she stays for the moment and then says that cleaning up is what staff is for. Astrid, learn from this quickly or Joe will send you home for real the next time.
Astrid’s seared chicken breast and hash are good. So she appears safe. Amy’s shrimp and chicken tacos look okay but the chicken is dry. Major ding for that. Finally Michael’s roast chicken is too salty so no brainer here either as to which two go home. Astrid takes her apron up to the balcony. The last three are Frances, Chandace, and Elise. Frances makes a spinach pasta with, Chandace a potato rosti, and Elise chicken pot pie. Chandace’s potato dish has raw potato in it. So she heads home while Frances and Elise get aprons. Gordon was not sure of Elise’s chicken pot pie at first. It did not look that great. And lets face it, a lot of people screw it up with mushy vegetables and dry chicken. Gordon liked it! So with a bit of head fake again making her think she was leaving, those on the balcony come down to join her as the final 22 is now complete.
Next week it is the competition for real with mystery box challenge and a double elimination. The previews show Leslie and Elizabeth getting heated during cooking. Leslie got into banter with Christian on the balcony during his cooking. And when they showed Leslie getting the apron, the camera panned up to show Christian and Victoria looking none too pleased. One of the early contestants last season (who did not make into the final cut) said that many of the cheftestants do mingle before the competition which would explain why there is already some animosity before the show gets going. Interesting to see how this develops over the season.
It is being shown on Monday night at 8pm as a lead into the latest 24 episode. Despite great promos, the ratings have not as good as hoped for that show. So they are hoping Masterchef will be a good lead in. Last year it competed with American Baking Competition on CBS. That show got mixed reactions and its ratings were mediocre. While not officially cancelled, it is not scheduled to be shown against MasterChef.